We all have that book that captured us instantly. When we first read it, we would be so engrossed in the story that we wouldn’t even remember turning the pages. However, sometimes these books lose their initial allure and the magic that overcame us upon the first reading. Here are some of the books that I wish I could recapture the experience of reading them for the first time.
Warning: May contain spoilers and awesomeness.
1. Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz – Horowitz knows how to keep his readers turning pages, and I can remember staying up until 4:00 a.m. just waiting to see how MI6 teen spy Alex escaped from a seemingly doomed situation. However, now that I know how he got out of those jams, the books have lost some of their mystery and excitement for me.
2. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen – Garden Spells is Allen’s breakout novel, and it became a New York Times Bestseller. Her writing seamlessly mixed magic with reality. Also, this book was the first time in which I had been thrown into a world of sensory details in which sight was not the primary sense. Instead, Allen bombarded me with decadent tastes and enticing scents. I swear that I could sometimes taste and smell what she was describing. While I still love her writing and remain an unwavering fan, I wish that I could go back and experience the newness of her writing again.
3. Harvest Son: Planting Roots in American Soil by David Mas Masumoto – Masumoto’s exploration of his familial roots, community roots, and roots of his vineyard kept my attention. Admittedly, though, I read it during a time in which I was assigned (and diligently reading) horribly boring texts. Therefore, this assigned reading felt like I was somehow cheating the system because I was enjoying it. That aspect of my enjoyment is gone upon subsequent and voluntary readings of the book.
4. Queen of Babble trilogy by Meg Cabot – This series is one of my favorites. Perhaps my love for it stems from the books’ connections to Pride and Prejudice or from the protagonist learning to be unapologetic about who she is. I’m not sure. The first time reading the books was magical, and while I always have fun rereading the series, it just doesn’t have that enchantment over me like it did during the first reading.
5. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck – While not the most uplifting of novels, The Good Earth had me continually rooting for Wang Lung and O-Lan to rise out of poverty and then for Wang Lung to realize O-Lan’s importance. That hope for a happy ending kept me turning pages the first time, but now that I know the ending, I can’t bring myself to go back to the book for a second reading.
6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – This is the first assigned book that I remember actually enjoying as a kid. I was transported into a world in which I felt like I was Scout, and I intensely felt her emotions and the bond that she had with Boo Radley. While I understood (at least to some extent) the racial, class, and gender issues in the text, my focus was on Scout—how much I wanted to be like her and any shared attributes we may have had with one another. Now that I’m older, I find myself unable to read the book again that same focus.
7. You Had Me at Halo by Amanda Ashby – The reader starts out with a dead protagonist, but the book is oddly uplifting. While I’ve read the text three times now, I still haven’t been able to recapture that first time’s fun reading experience.
What are some books that you wish that you could read for the first time again?
I must be neglecting my reading. I’ve only read TKAMB. We were just talking about first timer movies we can still feel the thrill of. Star Wars (IV), Raiders of the Lost Ark, LOTR’s. But I think I could see them all again and be just as thrilled. (Sorry… Bit off topic.)
Well, if you’re ever looking for some good books to read, then I highly recommend the ones on this list. I think that some movies, like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars (I haven’t seen all of the LOTR movies) hold up. Other movies, maybe not so much. For example, I tried watching Liam Neeson’s movie Unknown again, but I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much the second time as I did the first. The Unknown was known. 😦
Yep. Sometimes when the plot gets spoiled, it’s all over… I love him. Need to go see Taken 3.
Ooo, yes! Maybe I shouldn’t be excited (I predict someone is going to get taken) about that movie, but I still am.
I noticed you didn’t list Harry Potter. Could it be that I’ve finally met the one other person in this world who didn’t read/enjoy it? I keep trying… But I get lost in her too prim voice and give up!
I have the standard favorites, but to mix things up, I’m searching for new ones. I finished Boy Proof in one afternoon. It was an awesome read. What’s not to love about Ya?!
I’m not sure if Harry Potter would hold up to a second reading because, quite frankly, I’ve never tried to read any of them more than once. I certainly enjoyed them, but I guess that they’re just not . . . well, maybe they’re more of a one-time thing. I haven’t heard of Boy Proof, but I’ll definitely look it up. I love YA, primarily because I feel like YA focuses on storytelling. Fancy prose can be enjoyable, and YA can indeed have elegant language. However, when it comes down to it, I believe that YA’s main goal is to tell a good story, and I’m always up for a good story. 🙂 Thank you for the read!
I like your diplomacy regarding Harry Potter. Well said!
I enjoy ya for the same reason- great story telling! It’s not as easy to write good ya as some might think- so many factors need to be right. The protagonist needs to be compelling enough to keep a teen reading, the antagonist shouldn’t insult their intelligence. And the plot needs to resonate. There’s good reason why so many ya books are being made into movies.
So, true. So, true.
There are too many to number, but The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley had such a hold on me for years. Then I read the sequel/second book in the same realm, and I almost wish I could unread it. It didn’t go where I wanted/expected it to and that made it very hard to appreciate all on its own.
I didn’t think of that possibility, but you’re right. Sequels can totally ruin the experience of the first book for a reader. I hate that when that happens. 😦 It’s kind of like the author ruined the experience by writing an ending that simply shouldn’t have been. I felt like Anthony Horowitz did that bit with the Alex Rider series. After I read the last book in the series, I kept saying, “No, no, no that’s not how it’s supposed to go!” I read an interview with him later in which he said that that ending was the only one possible. Oh, ho, Mr. Horowitz! I wholeheartedly disagree!
I remember reading a quote from a great author that you will read most of the books of your life before you’re 18. Well, this is accurate in my case. I’ve only read TKAMB on this list, but I’ve had The Good Earth on my To Read list for quite some time. I was fed a diet of English classics growing up (hey, that’s the colonial legacy for you), but I did enjoy them. Garden Spells sounds intriguing, so I’ll add this one to my list.
That’s an interesting quote, and I think that it’s quite accurate when it comes to “classics.” There are some classics that I just can’t enjoy, such as Melville’s novel, Billy Budd. *shivers* I’m so glad to hear that you’re adding Garden Spells to your list! I’m sure that you won’t regret it. 🙂 Thank you for reading!